The Grocery Manufacturers Association, with the Snack Food Association, International Dairy Foods Association and the National Association of Manufacturers, filed a lawsuit challenging Vermont’s mandatory GMO labeling law, Act 120, Thursday.
“Act 120 imposes burdensome new speech requirements — and restrictions — that will affect, by Vermont’s count, eight out of every ten foods at the grocery store,” said GMA in a statement. “Yet Vermont has effectively conceded this law has no basis in health, safety, or science. That is why a number of product categories, including milk, meat, restaurant items and alcohol, are exempt from the law. This means that many foods containing GMO ingredients will not actually disclose that fact.
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“The First Amendment dictates that when speech is involved, Vermont policymakers cannot merely act as a pass-through for the fads and controversies of the day. It must point to a truly “governmental” interest, not just a political one. And the Constitution prohibits Vermont from regulating nationwide distribution and labeling practices that facilitate interstate commerce. That is the sole province of the federal government. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency have both the mandate and expertise to incorporate the views of all the stakeholders at each link in the chain from farm to fork.”
Last month, Vermont became the first state in the U.S. to mandate the labeling of genetically modified foods. State officials anticipated a legal challenge and prepared for one by building a $1.5 million legal defense fund into the measure.
In response to the filing, Ronnie Cummins, national director for the Organic Consumers Association, based in Finland, Minn. issued the following statement:
"Today's move by the Grocery Manufacturers Association to prevent Vermont from requiring food companies to disclose the truth about what they put in the billions of dollars’ worth of food they sell to consumers is a desperate attempt to protect corporate shareholder profits at the expense of consumers’ rights and health.
"More than 60 other countries have either banned GMOs or require mandatory labeling of foods that contain them. Consumers in the U.S. have every reasonable right to the same information that consumers in other countries have about foods and ingredients that have not been subjected to independent, pre-market safety testing."
Cummins is calling for a boycott of GMA member companies and brands.
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